Netflix focusing more on Indian conent, says CEO Reed Hastings

By: and |
New Delhi | December 7, 2019 6:22 AM

Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings on Friday said the company has placed great emphasis on creating original Indian content for its audiences in the country and has invested Rs. 3,000 crore towards that in 2019-20.

Hastings said the company is investing to become “more Indian in the content offering”.

Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings on Friday said the company has placed great emphasis on creating original Indian content for its audiences in the country and has invested Rs. 3,000 crore towards that in 2019-20. He said that the streamer is committed to ramping up its original Indian content, something that will be visible to the audiences in the coming months. “We are developing our Hindi and local content here (India)… so you will start to see a lot of stuff hit the screen, big investment,” Hastings said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. “Delhi Crime and Sacred Games have been two of our biggest successes here,” the CEO said.

Netflix has been building on its India library — currently comprising over 10 regional languages (including Hindi.) while also ramping up its slate of originals. The firm’s biggest property Sacred Games is estimated to have cost over Rs. 10 crore per episode, an analyst said. Average shows likely cost about Rs. 3 crore-4 crore per episode or lower. Hastings said the company is investing to become “more Indian in the content offering”. Having launched its India operations in 2016, the platform has notched about a million subscribers in the country, according to rese-arch firm Media Partners Asia.

Local rival Hotstar that boasts of rich sports content along side the famed Game of Thrones franchise is estimated to be the top app in terms of downloads and monthly active users (MAU). It had 300 million MAU in June 2019, a RedSeer Consulting report showed. Nonetheless, the Los Gatos-based company has made decent profits — Netflix posted net profits of Rs. 5.1 crore in the year to March 2019 while revenues grew by over 700% to more than Rs. 450 crore. The firm’s net profits stood at about Rs. 20 lakh in FY18.

Competition in the domestic OTT (over-the-top) space is intense as firms scramble to grab eyeballs in a market where about 550 million consumers are estimated to take to online video viewing by FY2023, according to a recent KPMG-Eros Now report. The latest entrant in the sector is Apple TV+ with its aggressive pricing of Rs. 99 per month.

Monika Shergill, director, international originals at Netflix India, earlier told FE that a robust content licensing both in Hindi and other regional languages is in the pipeline. “In the long-run, we want to go beyond tier-two cities because I think everybody should enjoy premium story-telling,” Shergill had said.

In a first, Netflix launched a mobile-only plan for India in July which is almost 60% cheaper than its basic plan for the market. Low pricing and a large market makes India a ‘key opportunity’ for the company. “That is why our pricing of the mobile plan, Rs 199 per month is so aggressive,” Hastings said.

According to a recent CII-BCG report, India’s subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) market is estimated to reach $1.5 billion by 2023 from a projected $0.5 billion in the current year driven by diverse content and convenience of on-the-go entertainment. Over Rs 2,000 crore was spent on originals across four leading OTT platforms, the report showed.

Talking about safety of consumer data, Hastings said, “We are not importing data, we are not sharing data. We are not in the advertising business… the design of the business allows us to have very high privacy and be very independent of all the various data issues.”

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